Sunday, April 6, 2008

Continuing Journey in the Earth - Taking the Time Machine

How much can you see in an afternoon in the Coast Ranges of California? In two previous posts, I described how my students had the opportunity to explore the earth's interior, right down to the mantle. Del Puerto Canyon is a geological treasure, even if it lacks some of the dramatic scenery of other more famous locales.

Our trip also encompassed some interesting time travel...the Upper Cretaceous Moreno Formation also includes the K/T boundary in the uppermost section ( I have not heard of any studies about the presence of iridium, or clay layers, or shocked quartz in this particular region, or if the section is even conformable, but it is still a neat moment to stand near the mouth of the canyon and point out that the saddle on the skyline separates the "dinosaur layers" from the "non-dinosaur layers".

Even better, not more than a kilometer up the canyon is the locality of the first-ever discovery of a dinosaur in California. In 1998, I had the opportunity to tour the canyon in the company of Al Bennison, who discovered the hadrosaur remains in the 1930's when he was a teen. If I understood correctly, the bones came from the scarp at the head of the large slump, near the triangular brush field in the upper left-hand side of the photo below.

All in all, a great place to teach and learn geology. Check it out some time if you ever make it out to California. Coming up next...seeing a volcano from underneath!

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